Photo via shutterhacks on Flickr

Photo via shutterhacks on Flickr

Reading the right book at the right time can help us spark an idea for a project, guide us toward the exact solution we need for a problem, or otherwise inspire or motivate us when it matters most.

For thousands of years people have been writing, which means there is a nearly limitless amount of knowledge out there for us to tap into whenever we need it most. Because we can learn so much from those who came before us as well as those who are smarter than us, it’s worthwhile to make reading more of an important piece of everyday life. But how do we make time to read more when there’s already hundreds of things fighting for our attention and energy every day?

Ryan Holiday, author of The Obstacle Is the Way, argues that reading is only difficult when we don’t make it a priority:

Where do you get the time to eat three meals a day? How do you have time to do all that sleeping? How do you manage to spend all those hours with your kids or wife or a girlfriend or boyfriend? You don’t get that time anywhere, do you? You just make it because it’s really important. It’s a non-negotiable part of your life.

…Perhaps the reason you having trouble is you forgot the purpose of reading. It’s not just for fun. Human beings have been recording their knowledge in book form for more than 5,000 years. That means that whatever you’re working on right now, whatever problem you’re struggling with, is probably addressed in some book somewhere by someone a lot smarter than you.

To take Holiday’s advice a step further, we can make reading easier by carrying a book wherever we go. By always having a book within arm’s reach, any time you have a spare moment—on the train, waiting for an appointment, or during lunch—you have something to read in-hand and ready to open. If the thought of carrying a physical book around with you isn’t appetizing, consider any of the book apps available for your phone (like the Kindle and Nook apps or iBooks).

Alternatively—if it fits within your budget—you can leave a different book (or a copy of the same book) in all of the places you usually spend your time, one at home, one at work, one in the car. To quote the great Dr. Seuss: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”


  • Karl Nilsson

    it took me 2 paperback copies and a google play version to have Anna Karenina everywhere I went. Super worth it

  • Javi

    My lunch today consisted of leftover lasagna and Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 in paperback. I try to keep my current read close by. Feed your belly and your brain.

  • Christine

    I completely agree…I’m currently reading 4 different books, all on different topics. I learn something new every time I read.

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